College Parents Group is a valuable resource for students with children

By Portia Kerr-Newman

Some people may think it is impossible for single parents or couples with a child to attend college.

Being a parent isn’t an easy task and to some, going to school and raising kids may seem impossible.

For those who may be struggling with such situations, NIU College Parents Group offers plenty of support. Founded in 2000, the organization gives hope to parents who still want to fulfill their dreams of continuing their education.

“We offer parents support groups, help find child care, help find financial assistance, help look for jobs and provide transportation to places like public aid,” said faculty advisor Ramona Walton-Fykes.

I wanted to find out more about the organization so I attended one of their events last semester. The event, held in the Chandelier Room at Adams Hall, honored the parents and children who are members of the organization.

The parents were acknowledged and the children received Christmas gifts from sponsors. In its ninth year, the event has grown considerably.

“In the beginning years, the event was kind of dry, but each year, more and more parents come,” said Jerry Wright, director of Student Support Services.

According to Walton-Fykes, the College Parents Group holds several events like this throughout the year. They have parties, fundraisers, study groups and activities for children, such as bowling and field trips.

For events that cost money, parents are required to pay a small portion and the Student Association covers the rest. In addition to helping ease the stress that accompanies being a parent and a college student, the group also benefits parents by giving them a chance to meet and socialize with others who are in similar circumstances.

“With me being a single parent on campus and not knowing anybody, Ramona kind of took me under her wing and helped me out when I first came here,” said pre-nursing major Adena Jones.

The College Parents Group is also partnered with the We Care Pregnancy Center, which hosts workshops for members, provides free pregnancy testing and information about health care to the public and gives away clothing.

For those who are interested, joining the organization is easy. The only requirement is that one must be an NIU student and a parent. Applications can be found on the website for Student Support Services.

Students often come to NIU and don’t know anyone. Organizations like the College Parents Group help provide a support system away from home and allow those who may be struggling to balance family and school achieve their academic goals.